Well, San Fran was definitely not what I was expecting, and in hind sight I don’t really know what I was honestly expecting. I guess that old image of a sunny place full of electric trolleys, gay rights activists and cultural acceptance, like all the movies promised. However, what I found was exactly what the Arctic Monkeys predicted: some Fake Tales of San Francisco. Many of the people there were great souls and were most likely lured in by the same sense of mystique that ensnared myself to visit the town. However, Sanny Franny was not really much different from any other town. It was pulled apart by urban sprawl, the streets were plain, narrow and straight and the hippies there didn’t want to help you unlock your mind or put flowers in your hair, they just wanted to sell you some “dank nugs.” It makes me wonder if San Fransisco was ever the cultural mecca it was cracked up to be, and according to my mom, Haight-Ashbury was only as awesome as the stories told for as long as Kesey and friends had made it awesome.
On first arrival there, I was still in awesome-Arcata mode, meaning I said hi and waved to everyone I saw. Then, we saw three guys with guns in their pants and daggers in their eyes. Apparently, we were in the better part of town, but just the other week, someone had been stabbed right in the middle of San Fransisco State University. Yes, I know these are tough times and people are forced to make compromising deals in their lives every day, but to hear that this kind of thing was happening at the very place where peace-loving radicals were supposedly forged, made me sad. I know the world is capable of producing so many finer people then this, and I want to help the world and the people inside it to remember this. Humans can be whatever they want. That’s what makes us so special. Specialization is for insects, and we are not insects. We can change paths whenever we want to and can go in any direction that life pulls us, if we allow it. Yes, we are not the only living, thinking beings on this Earth, and must be humble in our human abilities, but that does not mean allowing yourself to be pulled into doing the wrong things, or even nothing at all. We all have moral compasses unique to ourselves that help guide us smoothly along life’s floating journey down the stream of time, but many times people refuse to listen them. No one lacks these compasses. Sure, some people’s pointers may be a bit skewed, but they are still pointing somewhere and the direction they point is very very important to one’s own life.
Remember, improving your own quality of life is very important, but valuing the people around you- the other living, thinking people around yourself- is even more important. Do what you know is right and life won’t throw so many speed bumps in your path. Help and love, without greed or envy, those around you, and they will return the favor, without a doubt, in time and probably even in double. Hate only creates more hate, just as love creates more love. Now you tell me, which world would you rather live in? One of hate or one of love? Yes, we are entrapped in this crazy world with so many laws and red-tape holding us tightly into the grid, but we also live in an age where we are told we live in a nation of the people. People do not fit molds, amd should not have to compromise. Let’s change things a bit, earthlings. You know we could.
And on that note, some album reviews I think ya’ll would enjoy. Some of these albums are a bit old in internet time, but they’re nonetheless listen-worthy.
Noah and the Whale– The First Days of Spring
Ah, now here is a quality album. It is an album full of heartbreak, hope, and musical talent. Noah and the Whale is a nice little band that popped up strong in the musical world back in 2008 with their first album, and now they are back just a year later with an album reminiscent of that feeling you get looking at a sunset alone for the first time in months. The first half of the album is slow and haunting, but never leaves you looking for melodies or harmonies, as they appear just as easily, but maybe classier, if I can say so. The First Days of Spring explores the deep, foggy feelings that have before been left to fester inside your heart, and shows you just how delicate and pure their music can be while still giving you such powerful messages. It is mushy at times, but everything about this album is wonderfully put together and so neatly placed in perfect time, that I don’t really find myself minding. Not that there’s anything wrong with mushy… So, go get this album, put it on, take the doggy for a walk and let the music and the world work together to refresh your soul.
Iron & Wine– Around The Well
For anyone who enjoys Iron & Wine, this is just another reason to fall in love again with their magic, rhythmical singing and guitar plucking. For anyone who has yet to experience Iron & Wine, this is also great kicking off point, as it gives a good overview of the two unique sides that have defined Iron & Wine’s music. Around The Well is a compilation album of B-sides, Rareties, live sets, and discarded ideas, which can (for many artists) be a recipe for a very messy album. However, this double-disc collection is very, very stable and full of as catchy songs as any of I&W’s main discography. The first half showcases early I&W, meaning it’s full of whispered lyrics, fast, plucky guitar layers and plenty of very catchy hooks and melodies. The second half is more loosely put together, and more dense and layered, but still none-the-less I&W.
Fans looking for a direct follow-up to the intense sound created on The Shepard’s Dog might be slightly dissapointed, but this collection is definitely a showcase of what Iron & Wine are capable of. Personally, I’m always a fan of B-sides, because they show us the side of an artist we never really get to see, or that side which the producers deem not to be suitable for the mainstreams ears. It’s fun, it’s joyous, and it’s usually pretty unfiltered content from the artist (less producing). This particular wcollection is brimming with talent and well built ideas and is definitley worth adding to your collection.
Deerhunter– Rainwater Cassette Exchange
I’ve posted one song from this EP before, but I believe this whole album deserves recognition. It’s such a step forward for Deerhunter as a band, after 2008’s Microcastle and Weird Era Continued, which dealt with all of the odd weird emotions that come from losing a band member to cruel early death. Most of their music was very drug-adled and were quite long, drawling songs that came off as pretty hypnotic. This 5-song ep marks the band’s step up from the ambient confusion of death and it’s themes to a more prog-rock sound that instead inspires some hope. Deerhunter’s classic dreamy vocals remain and the repetitive guitar and light, yet powerful drum touches remain, but, like I said, the sound has evolved. Deerhunter is trying hard now to break into the neo-psych scene, and quite honestly, if this EP is any indication on their direction, they have quite a fighting chance. Some songs reminisce of early Pink Floyd, such as “Game of Diamonds” Egyptian-style drum pattern. A nice morsel for fans who hunger for the band’s next full-length, this EP is a nice step in the right direction and a healthy breath of fresh air into Deerhunter’s corpse-y history.
The XX– xx
Here’s something new. The XX, who are from London, England, have been called a 2 piece and a 4 piece, but latest news calls them a 4 piece. Bursting almost out of nowhere, though they have been around since around 2005, The XX have taken the music scene by storm. Sporting one of the simplest sounding sounds in recent music history, their style is a very refreshing breath of fresh air. The two lead singers, a male and a lady, have very depressing-sounding voices (but somehow in a fantastic way)that are balanced complimented by the racing guitars and chugging bass line tall tied together with very simple drum loops, which come off more as fleeting heartbeats then what actually drives the music. The XX state with sad faces that they have shunned what the music industry wants them to be, and their simplistic form showcases the bands taste for catchy hooks and warm melodies that somehow also chill to the bone. This album, full of plenty of musical genius but very little actual density, is a great reminder to everyone else in the world that for music to be good, it doesn’t have to have more layers then a high school freshman indie kid on sweater-vest day. You’ll look good if you look good, regardless of what you cover yourself in.
Other Albums From Various Times That You Should Have If You Don’t Yet, Like Honestly, Go Buy Them Right Now:
Animal Collective– Merriweather Post Pavilion
Delta Spirit– Ode To Sunshine
Grizzly Bear– Veckatimest
MGMT- Metanoia EP
High Places- High Places
Arctic Monkeys- Humbug
Menomena– Friend and Foe
Blitzen Trapper- Wild Mountain Nation
Dr. Dog– We All Belong
Panda Bear- Person Pitch
Enjoy yo Friday!
I’ll be back sooner then last time, I super-promise!